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One in three Internet users suffers from restricted access to the web due to government censorship, filtering or online surveillance, according to the free expression advocacy group Reporters Without Borders. Around the world, bloggers and cyber-dissidents are jailed for expressing their views. Reporters Without Borders makes sure their struggles are not forgotten.

We believe in a free and open Internet where everyone can express their opinions and learn from others. For this reason, for the past several years we’ve partnered with Reporters Without Borders to organize their annual Netizen of the Year Award, which honors an Internet user, blogger or cyber-dissident who has made a notable contribution in defense of online freedom of expression.

This year for the first time, Reporters Without Borders is asking you to help decide who will win the award. Nine “netizens”—from Bulgaria, Egypt, Honduras, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mali, Russia, Senegal and Vietnam—have been nominated for consideration. Watch the videos showing their stories and then vote at youtube.com/netizen2013.



We hope you’ll be as inspired as we have been by these brave people. The winner, based on votes from people like you around the world, will be announced on March 7. He or she will be invited to the award ceremony taking place at Google’s Paris office on March 12—the World Day Against Cyber Censorship.

Posted by Florian Maganza, Policy Analyst, Paris

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Occasionally, we invite special guests to share their thoughts on the YouTube Blog. This guest post is from Autism Speaks about a documentary they are premiering on YouTube. The film was previously only available at small regional screenings and will now be available to viewers across the globe. 

Today we’re announcing the online premiere of "I Want to Say," a documentary short about technology and hope. It tells the story of how technology is making a difference in the lives of some people who need it most: children with autism.

This documentary is part of our Hacking Autism initiative to facilitate and accelerate technology-based ideas to help give those with autism a voice. Technology is radically remaking the world of autism. It is creating opportunities for those with autism to find their passion, develop their skills and eventually compete for jobs.

Autism Speaks is supporting the development of therapies and assistive technologies by promoting collaboration among designers, engineers, scientists, and individuals and families affected by autism.

We wanted to premiere this documentary on YouTube to show the world the power of technology for people with autism. Our hope is that you find "I Want to Say" as compelling and powerful as we do.




Alison Dyer, Social Marketing Manager at Autism Speaks, recently watched “How to BEND light !!

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Today’s guest blog post comes from Ronda Carnegie, Head of Global Partnerships from TED.

For the third year, TED and YouTube teamed up on Ads Worth Spreading, an initiative to recognize ads that inspire, educate and engage. Today at the TED2013 conference in Long Beach, Calif., this year’s ten winners were announced.

Ads were nominated in six categories: Talk, Social Good, Cultural Compass, Creative Wonder, Brand Bravery, and Education. Six nomination teams made up of one TED speaker and one rising thinker in advertising searched for ads in each category, while 25 leading figures in the ad industry searched for ads across categories.

Each of these ten ads go beyond the creative brief to spark imagination and create moments of emotional connection with audiences. The winning work will be showcased at TED2013 as well as on TED.com and you can watch them all here on YouTube. Combined, they have been viewed more than 100 million times on YouTube.

 

TED 2013 Ads Worth Spreading:

  1. Expedia - “Find Yours”
  2. Coke - “Security Cameras”
  3. Melbourne Metro Rail - “Dumb Ways to Die”
  4. Dell - “Meet Annie: The Girl Who Could Fly”
  5. TNT - “Your Daily Dose of Drama”
  6. Rainforest Alliance - “Follow the Frog”
  7. Channel 4 (UK) - “Meet the Superhumans”
  8. GlaxoSmithKline - “The Crowd”
  9. Dodge - “The Farmer”
  10. The Guardian - “Three Little Pigs”

Guest to the YouTube Blog Ronda Carnegie, Head of Global Partnerships from TED, recently watched “Young-Ha Kim: Be an artist, right now!”

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Congratulations to Devin and Erica, whose YouTube channel DevinandErica is our featured “On The Rise” partner this February. These loving parents have documented their family’s development, creativity and silliness on YouTube for more than three years, and today they’re featured on the YouTube Spotlight channel.

This channel was born when Erica was pregnant with the couple’s eldest daughter, whom they affectionately refer to as "Baby Bug." Their "reality show" on YouTube has grown to include a variety of content ranging from vlogs to homemade skits to original songs, and this fun-loving family has developed a dedicated following. In fact, support from their viewers helped them with the expense of a second IVF cycle, and Devin, Erica and Bug welcomed baby "DudeL" about six months ago. After more than three years and 300 videos on YouTube, Devin and Erica have amassed a library of heartwarming moments--get to know their family with channel classics like the ABCs "Baby Jam" and Devin’s baby proposal, and then check out some of the other fun videos from the playlist linked in the video below.



Here are a few words directly from Devin:
We would like to thank our subscribers first and foremost. Without you, we would not have come so far within this community. For that our utmost appreciation will now and always play the biggest role. Our subscribers have helped us grow as a YouTube Partner, as well as a family by helping give us a son just by watching and following our crazy family. For those who have not seen us before, our channel is packed full of family fun! We do vlogs, skits and original songs about our crazy life and family in Charlotte, N.C. We like to have fun and would love to have you with us! Thank you for watching and we look forward to you joining our journey. 
If you’ve enjoyed this monthly "On The Rise" blog series and want to see more rising YouTube partners, check out our Google+ Hangouts with past featured partners on the YouTube Creators channel.

You can participate and help us surface YouTube talent by nominating a YouTube partner to be considered for the “On The Rise” program. Feel free to submit nominations for your own channel, or for channels you follow that you think deserve more attention or could be the next YouTube sensation. We’ll continue to feature promising partners who have fewer than 100,000 subscribers and produce engaging content on a regular basis. See you next month!

Christine Wang and Devon Storbeck, YouTube Partner Support, recently watched “Evolution Of Mom Dancing (w/ Jimmy Fallon & Michelle Obama).”

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From artists to activists, teachers to students, kids to grandparents, YouTube is a place for people all over the globe to share their stories. YouTube’s Community Guidelines represent the rules of the road for all of them. They state that, in general, YouTube is not a place for shocking or violent content. When material of this nature is flagged by our community, our teams work around the clock to remove anything that breaks the rules.

That said, YouTube is an important global platform for news and information, and we realize that sometimes graphic material is vital to our understanding of the world. It can be posted to document wars or revolutions, to expose an injustice, or to ensure local events are seen globally. Because of this, we take great care when reviewing flagged videos, and allow graphic videos that are intended to have news or documentary value. This is where we need your help.

Why adding context to your video is so important

For all types of content you share on YouTube, but particularly with graphic content, adding context is very important. The information you add in the title and description is what helps other people find and understand your video. It will also help the YouTube team review your video if it does get flagged. 

Take a look at the following examples.

Example 1:




















Example 2:

 



















While the content of these videos is similar, the experience of viewing them is quite different. In the first example, the user provides very little information. In the second, we understand what we see, and see that the user’s intent is to educate and tell a story.

How to contextualize your videos: some tips to follow

  • Provide an informative and relevant title--you can pack in a lot of information here, even if you’re on the move on a mobile device
  • Fill your description with information: who, what, when, where and why did it occur?
  • Think about narrating what you see as you film, or add detail later using our annotations tool
  • Feel free to link to relevant websites, such as a related news story or artist statement
  • Organizations such as Witness and Small World News also produce great tip sheets
  • Remember YouTube’s tools--if your footage is sensitive and requires visual anonymity, check out YouTube’s blurring tool. If you feel your content was removed in error, you can appeal the decision.

Our goal at YouTube is to allow as much content as possible on the site, and still ensure that our Community Guidelines are followed. It is a delicate balancing act, and we depend on our uploaders to help. So whether you’re a performance artist, a citizen journalist or a human rights activist, remember: context is king. The information you add to your video helps tell your story, find an audience, and make an impact--it could even help your video be an important part of history.

Ali Glenesk, Policy Associate, recently watched “Grandma’s Advice.”

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Billboard and Nielsen have shaped the core measures of success for entertainers around the world. These institutions created the standard we all look to when assessing the popularity of an artist, an album or that song you just can’t stop playing. Each week, their rankings are eagerly awaited by budding musicians, bona fide rock stars and music executives alike.

Of course, the music industry has changed dramatically in recent years. We’ve seen artists become stars through channels that simply didn’t exist a decade or two ago. From Gangnam Style and grandpa style to the Alabama Shakes and the Harlem Shake, YouTube has become a place where artists connect with new audiences, and music fans are finding songs, bands and genres they never knew they loved.

That’s why we’re partnering with Billboard and Nielsen to include our U.S. data into their “Hot” charts--the Hot 100 List, Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, R&B Songs, Rap Songs, Hot Latin Songs, Hot Rock Songs and Dance/Electronic Songs. Meaning, all official videos on YouTube, including user-generated clips that utilize authorized audio, will now factor into how a song’s popularity is determined.

This announcement marks a big step in accurately reflecting how music lovers are finding their new favorite songs. And it builds upon our efforts to share this kind of data with key industry analytical tools like Next Big Sound and BigChampagne, which also help artists succeed both on and offline. Most importantly, we hope this news will excite our users, who have helped us discover some of the biggest stars and songs of the past seven years.

AJ Frank, New Business Development, recently watched “Harlem Shake (Matt and Kim Edition).”

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Over the past seven years, YouTube has become a global stage where music lovers can follow their top bands and find new favorite artists. After all, it wasn't so long ago that K-Pop exploded with PSY's "Gangnam Style" becoming the first YouTube video to hit 1 billion views. Similar music movements have continued to cross borders with legendary Taiwanese rock band Mayday live streaming a concert from the YouTube headquarters and Japanese singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu starring in a new channel about Tokyo's ultra-cute Harajuku fashion neighborhood.

Keeping up with the latest in Asian pop on YouTube will be even easier after today's official launch of A-Pop. The channel will be a hub for live-streaming concerts from Asian artists, directly hosting shows in progress or otherwise displaying a calendar of upcoming events. You can also find the newest videos from Asian pop artists and a playlist of the week's Top 20. There are also individual tabs for K-Pop, C-Pop or J-Pop if you want to narrow down to one of the three.

The A-Pop Channel already has a few big events planned. A-Pop Star Week kicks off on March 8 and fans will be able to connect with top A-Pop stars using Google+ Hangouts. Here's the lineup so far:

March 8 SHINee (K-Pop)
March 9 Wang Leehom (C-Pop)
March 10 Super Junior (K-Pop)
March 11 Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (J-Pop)
March 12 flumpool (J-Pop)
March 13 2PM (K-Pop)
March 14 Mayday (C-Pop)

You can tune in to Hangouts from A-Pop and ask questions of the stars by submitting questions on Google+ via a special hashtag. Visit www.google.com/+jpop, www.google.com/+kpop, or www.google.com/+cpop for more information on how to participate. The stars will be hand-picking five lucky participants for each Hangout, so be sure to submit a creative question!



There are a lot of exciting things yet to come from the Asian pop explosion, so make sure you subscribe to the A-Pop channel to get the latest news and updates.

Sun Lee, YouTube Asia-Pacific Marketing Manager, recently watched "Super Junior-M - Break Down."

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This year’s game day was was full of action--both on and off the field. After Baltimore and San Francisco battled it out during the game, you went online to vote for your favorite game day commercial in our annual YouTube Ad Blitz contest. After a week of intense competition, we’ve tallied the final votes and you chose Ram Truck brand’s "Farmer" commercial as your favorite ad of the big game!



Rounding out the top five commercials of the big game are spots from Budweiser, Samsung, Jeep and Hyundai:

2. Budweiser "The Clydesdales"
3. Samsung "The Next Big Thing"
4. Jeep "Whole Again"
5. Hyundai "Team"

From celebrity cameos to poetic images, these commercials represent the game day ads that resonated most with viewers online. In addition to being the highest voted ads on Ad Blitz, the five spots combined generated more than 61 million views on YouTube in two weeks--making up more than 30 percent of all total views of game day ads and teasers on YouTube (as of February 14). And the Ad Blitz channel had more than 46 million interactions with this year’s new features such as "Call the Coach" and "Paper Football."

In a new addition to our yearly celebration of advertising excellence, we welcome you to join us Saturday, February 16, at 3 p.m. ET / noon PT as we host a Google+ Hangout with the creative heavyweights behind these winning ads, along with ADWEEK editors James Cooper and Tim Nudd. 

Tune into the YouTube homepage today to check out the top five spots!

Sue McCauley, Ad Blitz Program Manager, recently watched DeStorm’s "1 Pinky Pull Up."

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Every year on February 14, we see endless pairings of pink and red, while our reactions remain pretty black and white. This polarizing holiday tends to inspire only one of two passionate responses: Valentine’s Day stinks--or it rocks. Depending on whom you ask, it’s a special day to shower your loved one with sweet nothings and gifts galore, or a saccharine minefield of prix fixe menus and overpriced chocolates.

Whether you’re toasting St. Valentine with champagne and long-stemmed roses, or fighting off nausea at the sight of every teddy bear and heart-shaped cupcake, YouTube is the place to be. This is all rather apropos given YouTube’s roots. A little known fact: we registered our domain on Valentine's Day.

This year, we canoodled with some of our partners and our Trends Manager Kevin Allocca to find the right videos for romantics and eye-rollers alike.

True romantics will swoon over the most-viewed proposals of all time while singing along to our top cheesy love songs.

All the single ladies (and gentlemen) may want to sharpen their A-game by studying our worst pickup lines list and the science of love lessons, which teach the essentials, such as how to stay out of the "friend zone."

And for those who spend today counting the hours ‘til the 15th can play our break-up ballads at full blast and bask in some schadenfreude while taking in marriage proposal fails. On second thought, if you’re pondering the merits of popping The Question today, you might want to check that out, too (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Enjoy hating or celebrating today and check out all of our Valentine’s Day playlists at http://www.youtube.com/youtube.

Chelsea Maughan, Communications Manager, recently watched "I Swear (Official Music Video) - All 4 One."

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In our monthly On The Rise program, we identify four partners whose channels are seeing significant growth but haven’t yet reached the 100,000 subscriber mark. Thanks to your suggestions, this month we bring you four partners who are still relatively early on in the journey, but your support can help them make progress and build on their success. Our nominees for February use YouTube to share healthy recipes, demonstrate creative art projects, vlog about life in London, and share a family’s story.

Here’s where you come in - you actually have the chance to help push these partners even further on YouTube. Review their videos below, vote for your favorite here, and one of these candidates will have the opportunity to be featured across YouTube later this month. In addition to your votes, each channel will be evaluated on criteria such as viewer engagement and channel optimization techniques to decide which partner we’ll feature.

In past months, featured On The Rise partners like polcan99 and MyCupcakeaddiction have gained many subscribers and seen their careers take off, in large part due to your support. This month’s poll will be open until February 19, 5 p.m. PT, so don’t forget to vote for your favorite channel. Check back to see which channel will be featured on February 26.

veggietorials
Cobi has been on a plant-based diet for more than 10 years and has created recipes that put a vegan twist on classic dishes. Her channel hosts a ton of these instructional videos as well as some reviews on vegan products and snacks.


SheSellsSeaShellscom
Debi started designing handmade crafts in college and thrives on turning everyday and vintage items into new treasures with her DIY and crafting skills. Watch her turn paint can lids into a funky mirror and other creative projects on her YouTube channel.


DevinandErica
Based in Charlotte, N.C., Devin and Erica began uploading to YouTube before their eldest daughter was born and they referred to her as "Baby Bug" more than three years ago. A self-described "reality and variety show," their channel content includes skits, vlogs and even original songs!


emmablackery
Emma posted her first vlog to YouTube a mere seven months ago, but has already developed a loyal YouTube following. This 21-year-old from London vlogs about school, family and relationships, and regularly hosts Q&As with her fans.


If you’re interested in participating or have suggestions for partners you think should be featured, you can nominate a YouTube partner to be considered for the “On The Rise” program. You can also check out some of our Google Hangouts with past featured partners on the Partner Support channel.

Devon Storbeck and Christine Wang, YouTube Partner Support, recently watched “Caught Red (Sprinkle) Faced.”

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Today’s guest post is from Water.org about an exciting campaign they’re working on to raise awareness about the water crisis. For more information on the YouTube Nonprofit Program visit YouTube.com/nonprofits.

While Water.org is known for our innovative approach to solving the world water crisis, we're less well known as YouTube stars. But every week we use YouTube to share the stories of the people we meet who don't have safe water to drink and to educate people about the water crisis.

With Matt Damon as our co-founder, Water.org can’t claim a lack of star power, but our experiences on YouTube have taught us that having a Hollywood celebrity in frame is not always a guarantee for viral online success.

Over the past few years we've included Matt in a variety of our videos, visiting our project sites, doing interviews, and in other cases "dressed up" for a specific role (like in Damon Claus for a Cause). From looking at our views, it is clear that "one-on-one" interviews with Matt and humorous videos are more popular than what people call traditional "public service announcement" (PSA) videos. It's not all that surprising since both humor and connectedness are key to the YouTube experience.

However, as interesting as this might be, our most successful YouTube moments happened when we invited established YouTube stars to visit our project sites and report back to their own audiences what they experienced. Cummulatively, these videos have nearly 3 million views - more than the lifetime views on our entire channel. Check them out:



So when we sat down and were brainstorming about new ways we could bring the water crisis to new audiences it made sense to integrate what we've learned and try something completely new: Matt Damon + YouTube Creators + humor + information = turning video views into awareness and action. 

Today we are launching an online campaign of videos that feature Matt Damon and a collection of YouTube stars like Wheezywaiter, Lisbug, Shaycarl, and LivePrudeGirls. Check out these videos and watch out for more in the coming weeks.



Finally, support the campaign by signing up here and we'll keep you up to date. Collectively, we will be raising awareness for the water crisis that, in the end, will make the lives better for the millions of people who struggle each day to find a safe drink of water.

Mike McCamon, chief community officer at Water.org, recently watched “When is Thanksgiving? Colonizing America: Crash Course US History #2.”

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Back in December last year, we announced our second YouTube NextUp program and called for your most creative ideas of how to collaborate with other talented creators. And you didn’t disappoint! We were overwhelmed with the imaginative and ambitious proposals and those selected represent a spectrum of determined creators who are all taking their channels to the next level. From comedic musicals and adventures of remote-controlled cars to special effects and holistic living, some great “collabs” are coming from these creators soon. Meet all of them in this video and subscribe to their channels today:


Along with grant money and new production equipment, these 30 channels were also invited to come to the YouTube Space LA and get creating. They’ve spent this week attending production workshops, learning about how to build their audiences, and filming new and exciting collaboration videos. We put together a short video showing you what they’ve been up to:


Austin Lau, YouTube Creator Programs Manager, recently watched “25 videos from YouTube NextUp 2011

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Safer Internet Day Tips From YouTube

Community is important to us at YouTube. And we want to see the YouTube community continue to flourish. To ensure that everyone has a safe, positive experience on YouTube, we rely on each of you to act responsibly and to respect others on the site. In honor of Safer Internet Day, please take a moment to make yourself familiar with some of the resources and tools available on YouTube.


Also be sure to check out how our colleagues at Google are celebrating Safer Internet Day!

Amanda Conway and Claire Rush, YouTube Policy Strategists, recently watched ”Born This Way Foundation Launch Event.”